Three plastics firms will change marketing on 'green' products

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: January 10, 2014 12:52 pm ET
Updated: January 13, 2014 9:19 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Sustainability, Consumer Products

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved final orders Jan. 6, settling charges that three companies were misrepresenting their plastic products as biodegradable.

Clear Choice Housewares, Inc., based in Leominster, Mass., sold plastic reusable food storage products under the name Farberware EcoFresh label, claiming the EcoPure coating helped the containers break down quickly and completely. Carnie Cap, Inc., based in East Moline, Ill., claimed their plastic-coated caps -- made by another company -- were "100 percent biodegradable." MacNeill Engineering Co., doing business as CHAMP, based in Marlborough, Mass., sold golf tees that it claimed were biodegradable.

Without admitting to wrongdoing, the companies agreed to change how they market their plastic products. Failure to live up to the agreement on biodegradability claims would lead to hefty fines for the companies. Under the FTC's orders, the companies are barred from making claims about how the products break down unless they can be supported with scientific evidence, including proof that all of the plastic will completely decompose within one year in a landfill, incinerator or recycling facility.

A fourth company, American Plastic Manufacturing, Inc. of Seattle, also opted to settle under the same terms, but that final order is still pending following the public comment period, FTC officials say, because the government has not yet responded to one comment entered into the record in November.

"If we get a comment from anyone – even one letter – we have to respond to it," said FTC spokesman Mitchell Katz.

"Thanks to the FTC for pursuing this issue. Citizens need to know that 'green' [sic] claims made on products are truthful," wrote Missouri resident Caroline Pufalt on Nov. 11 in the public comment section of American Plastic Manufacturing's proposed consent agreement.

A fifth company included in the original FTC allegations, Painesville, Ohio-based ECM BioFilms, has not settled, opting to stand by the biodegradability claims of their plastic additives in court. ECM's hearing is set to begin June 18 in Washington.

American Plastic Manufacturing and CHAMP are ECM customers.

ECM claims that plastic products manufactured with the company's additive, "MasterBatch Pellets," will biodegrade in biologically-active environments after more than a year. The company attached an asterisk to the word "biodegradable" on its marketing materials and Web site, pointing to the fact that it will take longer than a year for the material to biodegrade in landfills.

According to the FTC's latest Green Guides, issued in October 2012, a company is allowed to market a product as biodegradable without a qualifier if the product breaks down in less than a year. FTC does not have guidelines on how to market products with a qualifier, the ECM alleges.

ECM president and CEO Robert Sinclair told Plastics News in November that his company went through ASTM 5511 testing that proves the product breaks down, but the FTC said those tests do not properly replicate landfill conditions.


Comments

Three plastics firms will change marketing on 'green' products

By Gayle S. Putrich
Staff Reporter

Published: January 10, 2014 12:52 pm ET
Updated: January 13, 2014 9:19 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Residents ask court to close pipe maker

November 21, 2014 3:22 pm ET

Residents living by National Pipe & Plastics Inc.'s new factory in an industrial zone of Endicott, N.Y., say the facility has “devastated the...    More

Image

Ineos making its UK shale play

November 21, 2014 9:29 am ET

Chemical giant Ineos Group AG is planning to be the biggest player in the United Kingdom's shale gas industry.    More

UK court hearing case of rotomolding worker killed in 280 C oven

November 21, 2014 9:00 am ET

The management at a United Kingdom rotational molding plant are facing criminal charges for the death of a worker who was trapped inside a 280...    More

Image

New York City officials avoid taking a stand on plastic bag fee

November 20, 2014 11:28 am ET

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration claimed Nov. 19 to be committed to dramatically reducing plastic bag consumption in New York City, but ...    More

Image

Agilyx facing nearly $50,000 in fines from Oregon DEQ

November 20, 2014 11:59 am ET

Agilyx Corp., a plastic waste-to-oil company, is facing nearly $50,000 in fines for alleged hazardous waste violations at its Tigard, Ore., research f...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events